“Any way they can.”

It was the bad old days of the Reagan Administration.  i was living in Santa Cruz and rapidly ditching my liberal Democrat roots and becoming an anarcho-feminist.

 

fall in love not in line

Reagan wanted to reward his campaign contributing oil company friends.  So he proposed permitting off shore oil leases on the California coast.  This was fantastically unpopular among Californians.

free fools voltaire

Still Reagan wanted to pretend that there was concern for the public’s opinion and he sent his secretary of Interior, Don Hodel to talk with the people of Santa Cruz.  Hodel brought with him some oil company PR flacks who showed how this oil 1) was desperately needed and 2) how the major oil companies had a great record with safe recovery of oil from off shore and 3) had no real alternative.  The audience was totally not buying it.

 

Prof Rabbit and Brother Rabbit

Prof Rabbit and Brother Rabbit

At the last minute Rabbit and i decided to go to the public hearing.  It was jammed.  So was the list of people who wanted to comment critically on the presentations of the oil companies and the secretary of the interior.

Rabbit was not deterred.  He went up and spoke to the moderator of the event.  He promised he would talk for less than 30 seconds.  He would wait for his moment and when the moderator signaled him he we jump up quickly.  The moderator being a flexible Santa Cruz type permitted this extraordinary action.

When Rabbits 15 seconds of super stardom was signaled he jumped to the podium.  “Secretary Hodel, as you can tell by the comments in this room the plan for off shore oil drilling is fantastically unpopular here in California.  So i have just two things to say to you.  1) There are some people in this room who will stop you any way they legally can”

common way to give up power - ALice Walker

“2) And there are other people in this room, who will stop you anyway they can.”  Rabbit bounded from the room and it took the moderator well over 30 seconds to get the room to calm down.

No additional oil drilling took place off the California coast.

 

 

 

The Anarchists and the Bankers

By GPaul Blundell
If you really want to learn how to make organizations work, try organizing demanding and productive consensus based organizations composed of feisty and opinionated anarchists.  Rewards, punishments, and hierarchies are convenient crutches that you just don’t get to use.  This is our theory on why the FEC communities generate process consultants and facilitation trainers.  It’s like Frank Herbert’s theory of the Sardaukar but with group process.This summer I had the pleasure of visiting Las Indias, an anarchist transnational cyberpunk commune currently based in Bilbao.  Delightful folks, really.  They, like many other modern communards, have gotten into the organizational consultation business and operate a worker coop providing consultation.

Somewhere in Bilboa

Somewhere in Bilboa

Over the years, they’ve been hired by a long list of impressive and, for an anarchist collective, unlikely seeming clients.  Then, in 2006, they were approached by one the biggest banks in Latin America and Spain.  It was suffering from organizational malaise and wanted help for fueling innovation in its ranks.  Las Indias took the job and, after analyzing the situation, decided, like the good transnational anarchists that they are, that the bank was suffering from two major ills: they had too much hierarchy and they were too divided nationally.  The prescription was simple and radical.  They insisted that the bank stuff -more than 120,000 workers- should learn to talk and work out of the hierarchy with a focus in internal open conversations rather than communication segregated by nation or department.

And so they built up the first internal blogsphere used by a big multinational corporation.  And what did they see?  According to Las Indias, the new open transnational space immediately started fostering innovation and quickly six new products where designed by volunteer teams. What is probably even more important: the conversation changed the atmosphere and allowed a collective and wider reflection on including differing perspectives.

eyes surreal

As part of this wave of rediscovery, with workers rediscovering their own environment and the future living inside and around it, the bank financed the first book series of collected of essays by living authors released under Public Domain in Europe. The books, on such at-the-time arcane subjects as P2P systems, the sharing economy, and workers’ transnational cooperativism, were both free for download as ebooks and as a paper edition. The commercial success of the print version was a rare and surprising success in the Spanish editorial scene: even though everybody had the option to have them for free as e-books, thousands of copies of every single title were sold in traditional bookshops.

However, anarchist transnationalist organization was a bit too much for the bank in the long run. The “Innovation Department” who contracted las Indias closed (their members were all promoted) and the bank turned progressively towards a flashier policy of buying dotcom businesses and trying to integrate them into the existing organization. Emphasis on internal conversation was decreased and emphasis on promoting external blogs and marketing was increased. In 2010, after a few years as a successful but then orphaned experiment, they closed the internal blogosphere, the first massive conversational space in a big worldwide organization.

monkey with gun

The bank weathered Spain’s financial crisis in 2008 relatively unscathed. Las Indias suspects that the reflection and innovations fueled by the open conversations had outside of the structure of the hierarchy helped them to avoid dangerous policies then common in other banks. Las Indias walked away from the project, but with a recognized and salable experience that later opened doors for them to more big institutions and businesses of the European Union and Latin America.

Details on October 18th Community Matchmaking event in Brooklyn

We are excited that you are considering coming to the Community Matchmaking event we are organizing at the BUZ at 778 Bergen St in Brooklyn on October 18th. This email has several things in it

  • Schedule of events
  • Suggestions for the Potluck Brunch
  • Fictitious (almost correct) workshop descriptions
  • A bit about the Point A project which is hosting the event.

10 to noon Potluck brunch and discussion of workshops

12:30 to 1 Discussion about Point A in NYC and what we have learned so far

1 to 2 Meet The Communities/Collectives session

2 to 3:30 first workshop block – the one we are asking you to be in

3:30 to 4 Group discussion and harvesting actionable stuff from w/s block if any

4 to 5 community speed dating

5 to 5:45 free networking

5:45 til 6 next steps and evaluation.

easter-brunch2

Pot Luck Brunch – This optional get together before the content portion of the event would happily help feed you. Please do not bring bagels or coffee (we have that covered) or salsa and chips (since folks always bring that). Please do feel especially encouraged to bring vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Workshops – These are approximations of what workshops will be given by which of our many allied groups. Actual content may vary.

Can a residential worker collective become a commune? [Presented by the 3B collective – Brooklyn Bed and Breakfast] Workers collectives are critical alternative economic engines for community business. The success of the 3B collective should be inspiring to other folks interested in breaking out of the regular work-a-day world.

screaming-fear face and hands

Should community be afraid of artists? [Presented by someone from Flux Factory] A huge fraction of New Yorkers consider themselves artists. And many collective projects have collapsed because artists involved needed to extract themselves from the group effort to pursue their artistic vision. What at the possibilities for collaborative art? How can collectives embrace artists?

How do you income-share in NYC? [Presented by someone from Ganas Community on Staten Island] One of the few income sharing communities in NYC tells the story of what they did to succeed and the current challenges they face.

How to Start an Eco-Village [Presented by folks from the forming Catalyst Ecovillage in Warwick NY] What are the important trade offs in designing an eco-village? What assistance programs are available to help finance forming eco-villages? What design principals and decision making systems have worked well?

swarm theory

Swarms to find housing: lessons from occupy [Presented by James Andrews of OWS] Bees and Ants have complex systems for finding or relocating hives. These models have useful lessons which were being investigated and modified for humans towards the end of the Occupy.

Free Schools & Kids learning in Community [Presented by Go Collective and Twin Oaks Community Unicorn School] Is curriculum optional? Can student directed learning prepare kids for state required standard of learning tests? What does homeschooling look like from inside an intentional community.

When they tell you “Renewables aren’t ready”

i barely follow the renewable energy scene.  People often send me news articles they think are interesting.  i feel like this part of the revolution is actually progressing quite well, so it needs less of my attention.  Something which did catch my eye was a recent EcoWatch story called: 25 Top Companies Investing in Solar  This quote caught my eye:

Combined, these blue chip companies have deployed 569 MW of solar capacity at 1,100 locations—a 28 percent increase over a year ago and a 103 percent increase since 2012, when the first report was released.

569 MW installed capacity is less than 1/6 of a reactor (with 35% capacity factor for the PV).  But what is important here is that these are non-utility players and that the amount doubled in two years.  That would be 5 reactors worth in the next 10 years (the same as the current expected amount of nuclear power that will come on line in the US is all the utility based reactors under construction are completed on time – which is quite unlikely).

25 biggest corps chart of solar

But doubling is crazy fast.  At this rate by 2025 we will have replaced all the reactors currently running in the US with non-utility renewables power.  And by 2030 (in this very unlikely scenario) we will have a fully renewable grid nation wide.  Even if the nuclear industries most ambitious plans are realized, we will only have a twenty new reactors in this period, failing to keep up with the retirement of aging ones in the US fleet.

So the next time someone tells you that renewables can’t ramp up fast enough, you should observe nuclear power cant even replace it’s dead.

Why Nuclear Matters doesn’t matter

paxus:

How the nuclear industry tries to convince us that despite having no constituency it should be influencing our democratic decision process.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Nuclear Matters doesn't matter because its fundamental argument doesn't make sense. Not to these marchers, not to the general public, not even to politicians.

Nuclear Matters doesn’t matter because its fundamental argument doesn’t make sense. Not to these marchers, not to the general public, not even to politicians.

Regular readers of GreenWorld know that we have dropped a lot of digital ink writing about Nuclear Matters, the astroturf group launched by Exelon early this year to try to make the case to save the utility’s aging and uneconomic nuclear fleet.

Exelon and the PR firm Sloane and Company that runs the public end of Nuclear Matters have assembled a seemingly potent team of paid-for spokespeople to make the utility’s case: former Senators like Evan Bayh and Judd Gregg; former DOE secretary James Abraham; and the big catch, former EPA Administrator, Obama climate czar, and current League of Conservation Voters board chair Carol Browner. 

These and others  in Nuclear Matters’ assembled-team of backers have been writing (or, more likely, allowing their names to be used…

View original 1,308 more words

NYC public art

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

All of these images are from MetroTech Park, near the super cool 3B project – Brooklyn Bed and Breakfast

“You should definitely do it. It will never work.”

We are returning for another Point A trip to NYC.  We in this case is Belladonna Took, Aster, Gpaul, Angelica and myself, all from Acorn or Twin Oaks.  On the way up i am reminded of our recent trip and the tales tangled with it.

One of my favorite stories is the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  It has a contemporary Alice through the Looking Glass feel to it where figures of speech become characters in the story and a fair morality is woven among amusing chapter long vignettes.  If you have a kid you read to and you have not read this story to them, you should share this together. Central to the story is the idea that main characters have a secret which they are not telling Milo, the hero of the story, and they will only tell him when he returns from his quest.

Dogeared Book cover

Dogeared Book cover

When Milo returns from his harrowing quest they reveal the secret about his mission which is “It was impossible”. But he could not be told this at the beginning of his quest for it would discourage him.  Our experience of NYC is sort of the other way around.  When we explain the Point A project to people some excitedly tell us “That is fantastic, you really should do it.  And it is completely impossible.”

Consulting with Rhyme and Reason

Consulting with Rhyme and Reason

i am only beginning to understand this mentality.  It comes in part from long term urban activists seeing all the wonderful institutions they love vanish with time.   At the front line of chronicling the demise of the city is Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.  This blog‘s subtitle is  The book of Lamentations: A bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct. This blog is also one of the best sites i have found describing gentrification (which is actually dead) and hyper-gentrification (which is the current genetically modified version of the problem).

When i asked one of our NYC allies what this meant, they briskly proposed this translation.  “It means they are not going to help you.”  Further elaborating they said “They don’t want to be discouraging you, but they are presumably busy with ideas which might work, so they won’t be wasting time on your plan, which won’t.”

Cultural translation is often tricky

Cultural translation is often tricky

We are definitely outside agitators.  i find myself taking a crash course in New Yorkers.  They often show up late, they have crazy busy lives (i have heard people – including myself – saying they were “double booked”, it was not til i spent time in NYC that i heard someone say they were quadruple booked), they have complicated housing situations.  Many identify as artists and a surprising number express interest in having more community in their life.

Any insights into this crash course in urban culture i find myself now taking are appreciated.  The best place to talk about them is this excitingly unfolding Community Matchmaker event in Brooklyn on Oct 18th.

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